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tv   NBC Nightly News  NBC  December 31, 2014 5:30pm-6:01pm PST

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freezing at san francisco, but the wind kicks up, and it will feel like the 30s. have a good time and, well it's going to be cold. >> thank you very much. thanks for joining us. nightly news is next. on the broadcast tonight, battling the elements. bad weather holds up recovery efforts in the airasia crash. and each minute that passes will only make a somber duty tougher. tragic accident, a young mother shot dead inside a walmart when her child gets ahold of the gun she was carrying in her purse. frozen nation, 80% of the country experiencing below freezing conditions and bad weather socking parts of the west already may have taken lives. and the final countdown. it's already 2015 in much of the world. in just a few hours it will be our turn, and despite the cold people are ready to party. "nightly news" begins now. from nbc news world headquarters in new york, this is "nbc nightly news" with brian
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williams. good evening. i'm kate snow in for brian on this new year's eve. it's been exactly four days since the tower lost contact with airasia flight 8501, and despite intense efforts with poor weather in the area, search teams don't appear to be any closer to finding the bulk of the wreckage of that plane. indonesian rescuers have recovered several bodies and debris floating in shallow water. but for many families on board that doomed flight an awful wait continues. we begin with nbc's katy tur in surabaya. >> reporter: as many in indonesia celebrated the start of the new year, this small group prayed for their lost loved ones. after four days, searchers have pulled seven bodies from the waters. among them four men and three women including a flight attendant still in her uniform. >> like everyone else, we are shocked.
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we never thought the first findings would be our loved ones. >> reporter: despite it all families of the missing refuse to give up hope. we believe that our life and death are in god's hands, she says. we must always prepare everything because we never know when we'll die. 162 passengers and crew were aboard flight 8501. at the front of the plane, chi man choi traveling with his 2-year-old daughter zoe. they were only on the flight because an earlier one was full. on twitter a friend wrote choi never without a smile. six rows behind, eko widjaja traveling to singapore for vacation. his brother wrote on facebook, rest in perfect peace beloved brother. and only a row behind them, indri yani, newlyweds married just a few months ago.
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flight attendant posted a photo of instagram two weeks ago during a previous flight with the words "i love you from 38,000 feet." on the java sea bad weather slowed the recovery today with divers forced out of the water. meanwhile, on land the first bodies arrived at the hospital. among them a woman and a teenage boy. investigators have now taken dna samples from 93 next of kin to help identify the victims. a grim end to a grim year, the travel in the skies. as for the sonar images that purported to show the bulk of the fuselage under water, the airasia ceo came out and said they do not have those images. they do not have confirmation they've found the plane, but they're still looking. kate. >> katy tur in indonesia, thank you. for more on this we turn now to tom costello who covers aviation for us. he joins us from washington tonight. tom, so clearly weather is really hampering this search not only for remains but for the wreckage. once they get to the wreckage, what are they looking for?
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what do investigators want to find? >> they want to find the tail section very quickly. that's where they'll find the cockpit voice and data recorders, the so-called black boxes. the flight data recorder has about 1,000 different pieces of data, everything from the plane performance, pitch, altitude, heading, speed, all that, couple that with the cockpit voice recorder and you hear the conversations between the pilots. what actions did they take and why? what were they saying to each other? did they have a concern about engine performance, about air speed, about weather? all of that will be coupled with the flight data recorder. and then they want to look at the engines themselves. is there any evidence from the engines that maybe they suffered cataclysmic damage, from ice or hail. all of that should tell the tale of what happened to this plane. >> tom costello following it all from washington, thank you. now to our other major story, just as millions of americans are getting ready to celebrate the new year, bone chilling temperatures are spreading across the u.s.
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thermometers were reading below freezing in a whopping 80% of the country at one point today. and out west the weather is proving dangerous, even deadly. our report tonight from nbc's miguel almaguer. >> reporter: this is southern california this morning where these are rare sights and sounds. >> woo hoo! >> reporter: some of the golden state frosted in white. >> whoa! >> reporter: fun for some, brutal for others. more than 100 rescued from cars stuck in the snow along mountain passes. >> major bummer. >> we're always up for an adventure. we're together. >> reporter: wind gusts toppled big rigs. in catalina, two men including a harbor patrol officer were found dead in the water. thousands lost power. trees slammed into homes and cars. in northern california, at least two were killed. in the rockies an avalanche claimed another life. three others rescued just in
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time. in wyoming, sub zero temperatures froze fire hoses. in laramie the windchill was negative 54 degrees. the bitter cold gripping much of the nation. 80% of the u.s. has temperatures below freezing. there's even rare snowfall in las vegas, where many roads into town were closed. for those who did make it to vegas, the strip here will be packed. 350,000 in bitter cold. in pasadena at the rose bowl, wind gusts suddenly ripped apart canopies and sent many screaming. at least four minor injuries. across california this is a sight some will never forget. >> when we heard that it would be snowing today here, we were like, okay, we need to bring my mom. she needs to see snow. so this is the first time in 64 years. >> reporter: the storm of a lifetime on the final day of 2014. miguel almaguer, nbc news. so just how bitterly cold
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will it be out there tonight? nbc meteorologist dylan dreyer is out on the plaza with the forecast. hi, dylan. >> reporter: hi, kate. good evening. it is going to be extremely cold for most of the country. the pattern right now has the cold extending all the way into texas and northern florida. you have to go into southern florida before we see temperatures even anywhere close to normal. take a look at midnight tonight. we are going to see those feels-like temperatures when you factor in the wind for most areas down in the single digits and teens. it will feel like 31 degrees in dallas but 6 in amarillo. it will feel like 12 below in parts of wyoming. so it is going to be a cold one tonight and also a snowy one across the southern rockies with the snow already falling. we could see one to two feet of snow in the highest elevations. and the lake effect snow machine is on in watertown and aswego, up to three feet of snow. and, kate, as we kick off 2015,
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just to note for that rose parade tomorrow, windchills in pasadena, california will be down in the 20s. it's cold pretty much everywhere. >> yeah. pretty much everywhere. dylan, thank you. by now you probably know that gas prices have taken a serious dive in 2014. what you may not know is that americans saved about $14 billion on gas this year compared to 2013. that's according to aaa. and the news gets even better. in the new year aaa says we could save as much as $75 billion on gas if prices stay low. we are in the middle of what could be the worst flu season in years. the cdc is declaring it an epidemic, and it is spreading. 29 states reported widespread flu activity a week ago. well, since then that number has risen by seven to 36 states. already this season the cdc is reporting 15 pediatric deaths from the flu. health officials have warned that this year's flu shot isn't very effective against the dominant strain, but they also say it's better to get the shot than to have no protection at
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all. an idaho family is dealing with a terrible tragedy this new year's eve. a young mother took her son and nieces shopping in a walmart, but inside a horrible accident took her life. and now many are asking how could this have been avoided? our report tonight from nbc's joe fryer. >> reporter: shopping at the walmart in hayden, idaho, authorities say 29-year-old veronica rutledge was shot and killed by her 2-year-old son. the boy was sitting in a shopping cart and found a gun in his mother's purse. >> heard about the incident and just brings me to tears right now because it's so sad. >> reporter: the sheriff's department says surveillance video should answer lingering questions. was the safety on? did the toddler pull the trigger or was the gun dropped? but some are asking different questions. >> why did she bring a pistol to walmart? >> i don't understand why it's so close to her 2-year-old son. >> this is a horrific and tragic story, but it's not an entirely uncommon one for our country. >> reporter: relatives say rutledge, a research scientist, was a responsible gun owner with a concealed carry weapons
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permit. her purse was a christmas gift specially designed to carry a concealed gun in a zipped pocket. >> slip into the purse -- >> reporter: carey lightfoot owns the well armed woman, she says there are a variety of purses designed to hold concealed weapons, but they're not for everyone. >> owning a conceal carry purse you need to treat it like a newborn baby. it never leaves your side. and that baby is never unattended. >> reporter: nationwide the number of concealed carry permits has increased dramatically in the past decade topping 11 million. in idaho, 7% of the population has a permit higher than the u.s. average 4.8%. >> the culture in north idaho is one that is a very pro-gun area. >> reporter: veronica rutledge's family says she grew up around guns and was well-trained. they call what happened at walmart a tragic accident. joe fryer, nbc news, los angeles. the trial of accused boston
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bomber dzhokhar tsarnaev is set to begin next week. a federal judge denied his attorneys the request to delay the trial and move it outside the city of boston. the defense is filing an appeal, but if it is not successful jury selection will begin on monday. still ahead tonight, the huge outpouring of support for a teen who made a poignant plea online. also, over a million people expected in times square tonight as we get ready to welcome 2015.
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we're back with the story so many have been talking about on this last day of 2014. it's about a striking online plea for compassion from a teenage who are clearly felt out of answers. while it's now too late for help to arrive, the message is resonating with people all across this country. our report tonight from nbc's john yang. >> reporter: leela alcorn, a transgender 16-year-old whose family called her joshua, said she felt isolated and dress e depressed. people say it gets better, but that isn't true in my case. it gets worse. each day i get worse. shortly after posting that on her tumblr account, she stepped in front of a tractor-trailer about four miles from her home outside of cincinnati. her friends struggled to understand her death. >> she did not die for a cause. she died because she was desperate.
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>> reporter: it's something that happens all too often to young people who are transgender. in one survey more than 40% of transgender youth said they had attempted suicide. >> there were preventable components that break my heart. >> reporter: alcorn's suicide note full of anguish and despair. parents who she said didn't understand her, her inability to get the help she wanted and the sense of being a girl trapped in a boy's body. her parents didn't respond for requests for comment. leela confided in few friends. >> she told me, hey, keep this on the down low. i do not want people from our school to know. >> reporter: on twitter an for leelah alcorn and praying for equality. heaven has another angel. the suicide note ended with a plea, my death needs to mean something. fix society. please.
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dr. robert garaffalo said the lessons from alcorn's life could help. >> the challenges she went through is going to help make somebody else's journey easier. >> reporter: so that by alcorn's own measure her death may have meaning. john yang, nbc news, chicago. and we're switching gears in a moment with the words you might want to strike from your vocabulary if you want to start the new year off right.
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the sights from auckland, new zealand, the first major city to celebrate the new year. they're already well into their hangovers there. and in australia where sydney held its always spectacular celebration. journeying west across the time zone, hong kong welcomed 2015 with a dazzling fireworks display. and never to be outdone, dubai went big and bigger with a massive l.e.d. light show. and pretty soon it will be our turn. earlier we mentioned the bitterly cold temperatures descending on most of the nation, but that couldn't stop a massive crowd from gathering in and around times square where the ball is poised to drop. security is tight this year after a month filled with mass
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protests in new york city. stephanie gosk is in times square tonight. stephanie, how's it going out there? >> reporter: hey, kate. happy new year's eve from me and hundreds of thousands of my closest friends. many of whom have flown in from around the world to enjoy these temperatures and take part in events that date back to 1904. now, security on the ground is about what you'd expect for this event. thousands of extra police officers, counterterrorism units and bomb squads. while today the new york governor announced that there would be extra national guard on hand at airports and train stations. and additional challenges are going to have in dealing with protesters calling for police reforms, they're going to have a difficult time here in times square just being heard. this crowd is loud and it's only getting louder. kate. >> thanks, stephanie. you can get your party started early with the "today" show kathie lee gifford and hoda kotb. they're hosting a star-studded
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toast to 2014. it starts at 8:00 p.m. eastern 7:00 central. if you're in a resolution making mood, the language police at lake superior state university have released the annual list of words they like us to stop using, among them polar vortex. let's hope we don't have to say that again in the new year. foodie, we got it. cra-cra, frankly the university is way late on that one. and bae, if you're fortunate enough not to know that one, it's a term of affection that most of our newsroom agrees has got to go. when we come back, we pay tribute to the famous faces we lost over the last year.
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we learned today that prolific actor edward herrmann has died. his face is a familiar one from tv shows like gilmore girls, movies like "lost boys" and as many performances as fdr. herrmann who was 71 joins a long list of famous names we've lost over the past year. we continue our annual tradition of looking back at the defining moments of their lives and their careers. >> you know how to whistle don't you, steve? you just put your lips together and blow.
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>> it does feel a little intimidated. >> by me? [ laughter ] ♪ on the good ship lollipop ♪ ♪ it's a sweet trip to the candy shop ♪ ♪ where bon-bons play on the sunny beach in peppermint bay ♪ >> i'm going to write a show for us. ♪ [ laughter ] >> i mean, they don't have a hoof hanging off of it. >> can we talk? grow up!
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>> that is amazing. i adore -- ♪ so beautiful to me ♪ ♪ can't you see ♪ ♪ if i had a hammer, i'd hammer in the morning ♪ ♪ i'd hammer in the evening ♪ >> the hell we have lived through and lived through still have sharpened our senses and toughened our will. ♪ ♪ here comes the story of the hurricane ♪ >> drive right center field, base hit, there it is. a star for the ages for tony
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gwynn, number 3,000. >> i'm casey kasem, these are the most popular singers in the usa. here's bobby womack moving up a couple of notches. ♪ you're just too good to be true ♪ ♪ can't take my eyes off you ♪ ♪ you'd be like heaven to touch ♪ ♪ i want to hold you so much ♪ ♪ here's to the lady who lunch ♪ >> it's "saturday night live" with jan hooks. ♪ the brady bunch ♪ ♪ the brady bunch ♪ ♪ that's the way they became the brady bunch ♪
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♪ dream, dream, dream, dream ♪ ♪ dream, dream, dream, dream ♪ ♪ whenever i want you all i have to do is dream ♪ ♪ take good care of my baby ♪ >> mrs. robinson, you're trying to seduce me. >> champions of communism, i've spent the past three years learning finnish. >> i am mork from ork. good morning vietnam! carpe diem, seize the day. ♪ but will you love me
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tomorrow ♪ >> the work of producer michelle melnick and editor barry silverman. that's our broadcast tonight. thank you for being with us. i'm kate snow in for brian. happy new year. we're going to bring our blankets out. it's really cold. it's a little bit cold we're not used to it. >> ringing in the new year with a blast of winter as the festivities get under way, last-minute adjustments being made, and folks are encouraged to bundle up. especially those planning to venture outdoors. take a look over san francisco where the temperature continues to drop and a couple hundred thousand people are expected to ring in 2015. i'm terry mcsweeney. raj and jessica have the night off. it is difficult to ignore the
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biting hold that's hit the bay area. on your left, a live look over fremont. if you look closely you can see a flag waving in the wind. not only chilly a bit breezy making it even chillier. on the right, crews cleaning up after the wind that left a trail of damage across our region. downed power lines still causing a problem in many neighborhoods. several homes in san jose had to be evacuated because of live wirls. thankfully no one was hurt. we have team coverage this evening and we begin with chief meteorologist jeff ranieri who's tracking falling temperatures this new year's eve. >> the wind storm pushing south, making way for cold temperatures to set in here across the bay area. without the wind there's less friction in the atmosphere. so it's not able to stay as warm as it was, let's say, for the past several nights. it's going to be getting even colder. if you thought it was cold last night, wait until you see temperatures we're forecasting. by 10:00 tonight in san

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